Local walks, easy parking

As the end of August comes into sight, it has dawned on The Head Gardener and I that we have now been open for nearly two months, since lock down was eased in England. And what have those two months looked like?

Well the Lakes have had a mix of weather during July and August, showing us both sides of the meteorological coin: blazing, hot sunshine and plenty of rain as well. And getting out to enjoy the Lake District’s beauty during both extremes has been an interesting challenge for all, especially for first-time visitors to the Lake District.

But one advantage we have here at Maple Bank is the wide range of walks you can enjoy straight from the House. No need to drive. No need to park, or try to find somewhere to park. And if you want to go further afield, then the bus stop is only 2 mins from the front door.

Right behind the house you can walk up through the garden, onto ‘the Shelf’ road and head off behind the How. A short circular loop will bring you back into the village after about 20 mins, and then you can either head back, stop off for a quick libation at one of the pubs in the village, or go for a further loop around the village via Little Braithwaite and the bottom of Barrow, adding about another 35 mins to your stroll.

Fancy something with a little more stretch, then head up Barrow. The start is about 15 mins from the house, and you can either pop up Barrow and then head back down the back, or continue up and around Stile End and Outerside, completing the Coledale Trio in about 3-4 hours. If you fancy a short and lowish walk, then head up to the Coledale Inn, walk past it to end of the road, through the gate and continue up to and around Stile End. And you can choose to pop up to the top of Stile End if you wish.

For something more testing, then you can stroll round the How and then head up Grisedale Pike. That will get your heart pumping and give you some great views – including the Isle of Man on a good day, the Solway Firth, Scotland, the Southern Uplands and the Pennines – not to mention looking down on Bassenthwaite Lake and over to Keswick and Derwentwater.

If you’re up for a whole day’s outing, then why not tick off the full Coledale Round – or the Coledale Horseshoe – as some folks like to call it. You can conquer up to twelve Wainwrights or just go for a few and come back via the mine road back from Force Crag Mine.

Howabout, heading off across the valley and up Skiddaw and walking from the house means you get to avoid the hassle of trying to park somewhere. And you will feel that cold drink in the pub at the end has been well earned.

Need some shade for your pooch, or want to avoid some rain drops, then head up into Whinlatter from the House. Several routes will take you up into the forest and you’ll also see some great views from up there as well. Why not stop off at The Gallery afterwards on your way back and enjoy a cuppa and toastie as well.

Got Catbells in your sights? Then don’t fret about the parking. Walk through Braithwaite Village, past the Swinside Inn and up Catbells. It’s just under an hour to walk to the base of Catbells, and then you can either come back via Stair and the Swindside Inn, or head down to Derwentwater and refuel at the Lingholme Kitchen cafe before heading back.

The list is endless. Catch the bus to Buttermere and Lorton or head down to the Eastern Fells, in between Thirlmere and Patterdale. And the Seatoller bus will take you into the Borrowdale Valley. Either direction means you don’t need to move the car once you’ve arrived and unpacked. And if you email Daphne at the Village Shop, and order your sandwiches for your day out, then you’re basically all sorted. Plenty of Wainwrights to tick off your list. Plenty of flat or high routes to choose from.

Come and see us soon.

Kate, Ann and wee Tara

Breakfasts at Maple Bank

As we start to finalise our post-pandemic preparations around the House, in readiness for when we can reopen, my thoughts have turned naturally to breakfast.

ne thing I love about breakfast when I go away is that it is leisurely, washed down with several cups of coffee, and it sets me up for the day. And the bonus is all those little extras which you might not necessarily have every day at home. So how do we continue to offer this post-lockdown, so that you can still enjoy your breakfast?

We will only be booking up to three rooms at any one time (or four if one is a group booking) and so our tables will be laid out in the dining room as tables of four, at least 2m apart from each other. This will mean that each table will have its own set of condiments – including sauces and mustards – as well as homemade marmalade and jams, rather than you choosing from one set on the dresser. If you order fresh fruit salad , there will be a selection waiting for you on your own table. Our yogurts are individually served in pots already.

When you come into the dining room, there will be a sanitiser available for you on the dresser for each time you use the toaster or help yourself to the range of Teapigs teas.

We have a charming hatchway between the kitchen and dining room, where we’ll serve your tea and coffee for you to collect after you’ve arrived in the dining room, along with your choice of fruit juices. And the same for your chosen hot breakfasts when they are ready. This way we can reduce the amount of people moving around in the dining room.

We will continue to ask you to choose your breakfast time, preferably at half hour intervals, so once you’re down, you can just relax. Your table is spaced well apart from the others, your meals will be served hot at separate times, and I’ll clear away the dirty dishes etc once you’ve all finished.

Finally, we’ll continue to ask you to pre-order your breakfast the night before, as this will continue to help us manage our waste levels. This also means that you get to choose something different everyday, from homemade luxury porridge with a choice of milks, to scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, to the full Cumberland breakfast. And if you would prefer avocado smash with poached eggs one day and cereals the next, then that’s all perfect. Your breakfast, your choice.

If you want to find out where we source our products from locally, then have a look on our website for our suppliers. And we will continue to buy from them to support other local businesses.

We are really looking forward to welcoming you back to Maple Bank and the Lake District. And my mum’s chilli jam – gawjus on a hot breakfast – will be just what you’ve been waiting for.

For further information about our preparations please see our Covid-19 page and our ‘During your stay’ page.

See you soon.

Kate, Ann and wee Tara

The Lakes in May

I write this blog in such strange times. The Lake District has been amazingly beautiful during the last few months as the weather has been so fabulous, but obviously very quiet. Left alone to reflect on its own beauty in the lakes themselves, as we all live in lock down. So what have we been up to at Maple Bank?

Well, the Head Gardener has been extremely busy in the garden. We haven’t really had any rain for about seven weeks, so She has been in Her complete element. Out for several hours every day. Pottering, potting and re-potting. We have loads of bulbs in the garden and in our many pots, so we’ve really enjoyed having the flowers in the House throughout March and April. Once finished, all the spring bulbs in pots have been replanted into the back garden for next year.

We then got the wonderful news that one of the Head Gardener’s favourite nurseries was happy to deliver, which produced a HUGE smile. As a result we have had several deliveries over the last few weeks, as have a few folk in the village as well. This has included some fabulous plants to fill up the garden for years to come: holly-hocks, delphiniums, and granny bonnets to name just a few (and I now know what they look like too!). I’ve also been able to squeeze in some Hebe’s, which I love.

But my truly favourite purchases have been the geraniums. And we now have lots and lots and LOTS of pots of these and I can’t wait to see them all come into bloom over the next week or so. A cheerful happy flower which I fell in love with straight from the pages of one of my favourite childhood books: The Little White Horse.

And what have I been up to? Well the early good weather meant that I painted the garden shed – am really pleased to have got to this – as well as lugging endless watering cans up the garden for the aforementioned newly planted flowers …. and then we bought a hose extension – whoop whoop!!!. Also relocated some paving stones, fiddled with a few pots, and seemed to have dug endless holes for relocating plants…. I’ve also decorated my own room, as well as acquainting myself with some really exciting woodwork around the house… One huge bonus has been that I’ve also been able to spend some time decorating the kitchen which we have both found very satisfying. Quite a bit of my time has also been spent volunteering at our local village shop, so it could remain open for those at -risk groups in the village, as the owner is in an at-risk group herself.

And finally, some new cake-baking recipes have been well and truly researched by both of us. I initially tried to stick to the healthy oats-based recipes, but this didn’t last long as my waistline can show. We have found some really scrummy recipes to share with you. But when will this be?

So as of today, it seems as if we might be able to reopen in early July. We will only be opening up half the rooms so that we can rotate room occupancy to manage our cleaning regimes and social distancing in the dining room.

For group bookings, we will shut the house for three rooms or more.

Best to phone direct to find out availability – and to get the best prices.

If you want to read more about what we are doing to ensure that you have a relaxing and safe holiday with us at Maple Bank, then please do read our COVID-19 page and also During Your Stay page for more details.

We are really looking forward to welcoming you back to Maple Bank and the Lake District. But for now, stay safe, and look after ‘you and yours’.

See you son

Kate, Ann and wee Tara

Pure Lakes – handmade, natural skincare products

I’m very excited to announce that we are now stocking Pure Lakes natural skincare products in our rooms for our guests to use – and our first few guests of 2020 have absolutely loved it!

Pure Lakes was founded by Sandra and Iain Blackburn and has been producing award-winning, natural skincare for 10 years.

In search of a product that worked for sensitive skin Sandra, a trained chemist, combined her knowledge of science with pure, plant-based ingredients to formulate her own skincare products.

Claire & Gareth McKeever were among Pure Lakes’s earliest customers. Gareth and Claire bought the business in 2016 and continue to work closely with Iain and Sandra in ensuring the founding principles of the company are fundamental in every decision. For more on their values please see here.

Claire says, “Gareth and I had both used Pure Lakes products for many years and effective plant-based skincare is something we are passionate about.” 

“We are excited to have the opportunity to build on the high quality, sustainable and eco-friendly foundations laid by Iain and Sandra over the past decade”.

My mum, Ann, and I are really excited about using Pure Lakes in our guest bedrooms as their products are excellent. In addition, the products are made in the Lakes and they have a very strong sustainable policy throughout their production and packaging processes. As someone who has always had quite sensitive skin, I have find their approach to sensitive skin very refreshing and effective.

We stock the Heritage Range here at Maple Bank for our guests to use in their bathrooms. I chose this range as the fragrances are lovely for all genders. The packaging artwork is also particularly charming as it uses landscape scenes of the Lakes painted by Claire’s Granny. Whilst my guests won’t be able to see the packaging in their rooms, they can see them – and other Pure Lakes products – at ‘Love the Lakes’ in Keswick and ‘The Linden Tree’ in Cockermouth.

We also have the insect repellent, after-sun lotion and foot gel available for our guests to use.

You can also buy online at https://www.purelakes.co.uk/

Some specific details about their production process.

Ingredients – Pure Lakes make all of their products using natural, bio-degradable raw ingredients.  

Packaging – the packaging is either from recycled material or is recyclable/reusable in itself.

Where possible, Pure Lakes try to use glass jars, but where these are not appropriate they use plastic made from a biopolymer, one that is also fully recyclable and which is a by-product of making sugar, used in place of ethylene or oil.

Waste Generation and Disposal – Pure Lakes recycle or reuse all cardboard, paper, glass and plastic. 

Pure Lakes offer a Bulk Refill Scheme to the Hospitality Industry to enable them to re-use bottles thereby cutting down on waste. This is why we at Maple Bank have the larger 250ml bottles in your bathroom for your complimentary use and we ask that you leave the bottles behind for the next guest.

All Pure Lakes’ finished products are bio-degradable.

Product Miles and Impact of Transport – where possible Pure Lakes use of UK suppliers for all of their raw materials and packaging.

Energy requirement – this is relatively low and they are continually investigate energy sources that have a positive effect on the environment.

Theatre by the Lake

Theatre by the Lake – Keswick

One of the most amazing things about living in Keswick is the Theatre by the Lake.

Some returning guests to Maple Bank were booked in to see several productions in one week and encouraged us to go. Mum and I have now been to two productions and they were absolutely amazing.

In December 2018 we went to see the thriller – Beauty and the The Beast – yes a thriller! And this year we’ve seen Educating Rita with Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson – which was just fabulous. So lucky to see this touring show with such amazing stars. Stephen Tompkinson is up there with the greats as far as I’m concerned anyway, and so is Jessica Johnson. She had big shoes to fill – for those of us who have only seen the film with Michael Caine and Julie Walters – and boy did she fill them. She absolutely nailed it.

Following our wonderful trips we have now signed up Maple Bank to be Ambassadors of the theatre. This means that Maple Bank guests can get £3 off each ticket when you book at the theatre* – after you’ve booked to stay with us. On receiving a confirmed room booking, I will give you a code which you can quote online or on the telephone when booking your tickets direct with the theatre.

There is also a lovely restaurant by the Lake – Lakeside Cafe Restaurant – where you can enjoy a pre-theatre supper. We’ve eaten there several times now for lunch, coffee and cake, as well as for pre-theatre supper – and the food is lovely. For our last visit, I had the most amazing beef burger and Mum had a lovely starter of mushrooms on bruschetta. If you want to have a table looking out to the Lake then best to book in advance. Either way, the service is fast as they know you’re there for the show.

* Not applicable to some shows; terms and conditions apply – seewww.theatrebythelake.com/terms-and-conditions for details.

Bit more about the Theatre

The theatre, hailed by The Independent as “the most beautifully located and friendly theatre in Britain”, opened in 1999. It’s set a short stroll from Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, amid the magnificent western fells of the Lake District. It was a permanent replacement for the Blue Box, an mobile theatre created after the Second World War to take plays to towns and cities with no active theatres.

Theatre by the Lake was the last theatre to be built in Britain in the old millennium and the first to be built with the help of money from the national lottery. It has since staged more than 100 plays, commissioned new work, established a reputation for high production values and found a loyal all-year-round audience in the people of Cumbria and visitors to the Lake District.

They have two stages, a 400-seat Main House and 100-seat Studio and present up to nine of their own productions of classic, modern and new plays throughout the year. The theatre also hosts a variety of festivals and visiting companies and is open 52 weeks each year.